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Bernardo Bertolucci attempts to mix Buddhist spirituality with childhood fantasy in Little Buddha. When Dean Conrad (Chris Isaak), a Seattle architect, comes home from work one day, he finds two robed Buddhist monks sitting in his living room talking with his wife Lisa (Bridget Fonda). Guided by a series of disturbing dreams, the monks have traveled from Nepal to Seattle because they believe that the Conrad's ten-year-old son, Jesse (Alex Wiesendanger) may be the reincarnation of a legendary Buddhist mystic. The Conrads are initially skeptical, particularly when the monks want to take their son back to Bhutan with them. But after Dean's partner commits suicide, Dean has a religious awakening ("I've been doin' some thinkin'," he says) and permits Jesse to go away with the monks. Then the Lama Norbu (Ruocheng Ying) gives Jesse a children's book about the Buddha Siddhartha (Keanu Reeves). Siddhartha leads a sheltered life until he comes upon a couple of all-knowing beggars who introduce him to poverty and hunger. After this revelation, Siddhartha decides that it is his destiny to relieve all human beings from pain and suffering. Back in present day, Jesse is now knowledgeable about the basis of Buddhism. Much to Jesse's and his father's surprise, however, they find that there are two other children at Bhutan who show signs of being the reincarnated Buddhist mystic.
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